As previously mentioned, a few instructors at Northwestern University are now teaching a Marriage 101 course.
According to an article in The Atlantic:
“Northwestern’s Marriage 101 is unique among liberal arts universities in offering a course that is comprehensively and directly focused on experiential self-exploration: on walking students through the actual practice of learning to love well.”
They begin from the premise that marriage is not about finding the right person so much as being the right person. In my opinion this is exactly where love begins.
Love begins by asking yourself: “Would you want to marry you?” Then be responsible, and do the individual emotional work you need to do to understand who you are, where you came from, and where you want to go now. Only then should you consider inviting a compatible partner into your life.
In the Marriage 101 course, students keep a journal, interview friends about their weaknesses, and study their own hot buttons triggers to certain behaviors. They also study different value systems.
These activities are all essential, but I would add counseling with a good therapist. The best money I ever spent was in my thirties, when I worked with an excellent skilled therapist for a few years.
My own quality of life improved immeasurably after doing some difficult personal work. I have been a much more stable and content person since those sessions 25 years ago. I’m just sorry I waited so late in life to partake of this amazing opportunity to change my Self.
Another useful lesson taught in Marriage 101? Marital conflict cannot be avoided, but we can learn how to handle it better.
Students at Northwestern interview their parents about their own relationships, a demanding and rewarding assignment:
“Understanding your past and the family you grew up in helps you to understand who you are now and what you value.”
I think it’s great to see universities finally teaching some of the most important lessons we may learn in life:
that personal relationships take skills that you can learn from others
that all of us can become better at personal relationships
that having similar worldviews and value systems may be most important in maintaining compatible relationships
I loved the last line of that Atlantic article…
“LOVE is a lot of work, but it’s worth it if you put the work in!”